The NICE Initiative is the process by which female entrepreneurs successfully and profitably make use of disruptive innovation in technology (social media, iPad use) to orchestrate a legacy for humanity socially and economically. We are hard wired to measure overall job satisfaction and pride in our performance, by calibrating how much of a positive impact we have on community, not just ourselves.
Mission: To provide strategies, forums, seminars, and opportunities, to help more women partake of both the Entrepreneurial and Tech Revolutions, which have now intersected. It's time.
About.Me Page: http://about.me/NICE.Initiative/#
Book Blog: http://niceinitiativeblog.wordpress.com
"Power is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t."
- Margaret Thatcher
"Knowledge will give you power, but character respect."
- Bruce Lee
What a busy week it’s been! Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and for those who missed it, it will come around again…and again….and hopefully bring much needed awareness and changes right up to 2035 and beyond! This month also marks Women’s History Month in the USA, a time to consider which Calls to Action (CTA) to heed, which lessons to internalize, and which liberties to pursue and advocate for.
I touched on collective lessons women entrepreneurs need to share with others, especially those outside the United States, in my latest article for The Huffington Post. You can read it here. I even wrote A Letter to Little Girls Who Ask Why Not? And Grow Up to Become Women Entrepreneurs in my latest Wordpress post, which you can read here.
If you were also going to write such a letter, or create a time capsule of female advice and snippets of present history to be opened up years from now at a women’s entrepreneur event, what would you write?
Would you focus on recommending specific habits to foster entrepreneurship? Specific habits to foster increased work/life balance and happiness? Using more social media and more humor techniques such as Improv, to connect to others and better market your service/product? Would you advocate for being more productive? Showing more empathy and a more diverse perspective? Would you craft a unique to-do list for little girls and grownup girls to follow? Would you craft a unique to-don’t list for them to heed and stay the course?
One thing’s for sure…..The pursuit and achievement of women power hinges on our actions to make a difference, do work that matters, and
• Understand how to harness our own humanity and Theory of Mind
• Harness educational technology for global learning and reform
• Harness real/virtual mentorship to help guide us as we strive to unlock our potential/ the potential of others
Can we do it? Yes! It involves commitment (on several levels) to ourselves and those we are trying to reach out and help. It involves being honest with ourselves and others about the hard changes we need to make, starting now. That’s why I wrote my business book, The NICE Reboot. That’s why I’m busy working on getting ready to launch The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship.
What will it do? Provide coaching and motivational speaking about:
- Psychological thought leadership to help women financially succeed
- Productive mentorship to balance humanity/technology, using the iPad for your workflow
- Practical strategies to leverage social media using humor, visuals, and storytelling
- Methodical frameworks for enhancing performance, creativity, and productivity
In the immortal words of Helen Keller, posted on my Twitter Wall:
"Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much."
You can learn more here.
I look forward to working together with you to do something great!
"Education in the light of present-day knowledge and need calls for some spirited and creative innovations both in the substance and the purpose of current pedagogy."
- Anne Sullivan
"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."
- Thomas Jefferson
I gave a hands-on, multimedia full day seminar about iPads and Autism Intervention to a room full of special educators and parents today. The theme of substance and style came up; about the iPad’s user interface, tonight’s televised Oscar Ceremony, and entrepreneurship. There is no question that people look to all 3 to propel and shed light on the human experience. iPads tap into our creativity, the Oscar hoopla raises questions about our individuality, and entrepreneurship taps into our spontaneity; all traits one needs to acclimate to, and accomplish within, the ebb and flow of the waters of life.
I wrote about style in entrepreneurship in my recent series in my Wordpress Blog when I wrote about social media marketing and humor. You can read my latest post here. I wrote about substance in entrepreneurship in my latest piece for The Huffington Post, which you can read here. Both can be found in my book, The NICE Reboot.
Style has another context, as seen from the Academy Awards, and this funny quiz from the always entertaining BuzzFeed.com to help you determine which style icon you are :-)
Substance takes on new meaning, as seen from this disquieting blogpost about Google hiring practices. Both are being redefined in entrepreneurship for 2014, by our individual and collective actions and reactions re: new technology /disruptive innovation and cultural trends.
It’s still unclear what the long term effects will be for female entrepreneurship re: our collective reassessment of style and substance. Given the increasing complexity of the care and feeding of our digital avatars, I think we are in for a continued seesaw of “blurred lines” and hyper-vigilance re: the accurate portrayal of our brand and/or buyer personae. It’s a shame that women entrepreneurs still need to be concerned about their accurate portrayal, especially since Entrepreneur Barbie made her unfortunate debut.
Here’s hoping that the internet live stream debut of The Oscars fares better!
"Human nature is potentially orderly and constructive."
- Margaret Mead
"If you want to grow a giant redwood, you need to make sure the seeds are ok….and nurture the sapling."
- Elon Musk
As an educator turned entrepreneur I am well acquainted with the ongoing nature vs. nurture debate and its ramifications for human learning. For growth. For leadership. So that others learn, and grow, and lead. The debate has heated up recently in light of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. Every blogger, journalist, psychologist, entrepreneur, educator, and political commentator has been weighing in. I’ve decided to weigh in too, with a bit of a different spin, based on my current series here on Tumblr, which I will be wrapping up today, just like the Olympics are wrapping up. I think both venues have given us a bit more insight into the power of human learning; something I’ve been studying most of my career.
What makes the human learning process so unique? Is it our capacity to laugh, take constructive criticism, and learn from our mistakes by honing our sense of humor; the topic of my current series on my Wordpress Blog? Is it our delicate dance of show and tell for others; something I wrote of in my latest article for The Huffington Post? Or is it the inherent potential for growth and change, hardwired into every human brain; something Lise Eliot writes about in her recent HuffPost article on Women’s Hockey? What can we learn about the nature of learning from Craig Carpenter’s post on what the Olympic Athletes Taught Me About Entrepreneurship?
The nature vs. nurture debate has steadily gained momentum in the business world since the early 80s, when Dr. Howard Gardner PhD published his research findings dubbed The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. I wrote more about it in my book, The NICE Reboot, when I touched on why one’s Theory of Mind and emotional intelligence matters, I’ve lectured about it in my Socially Speaking™ iPad Seminars when I discuss learning styles, and the use of specific iPad Apps for children with Autism. There is also an interesting post by Jacob Shriar, about eight human insights re: behavior in business that’s worth a read. I just read it thanks to my Twitter gal pal and fellow behaviorist/business woman Arelene Newbigging Grady from Scotland, who continuously shares great content with me, that gives me much food for thought!
We live in an extremely fast moving and complicated time, which demands that the nature vs. nurture debate continue and be scientifically studied some more. It also demands that we have a respite from, and an epiphany about, our continuous attempts to stay in motion, like a juggler with several balls in the air. As entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, we spend so much time on active “outbound” learning; engaging in specific behaviors designed to help us vacillate between focus and multi-tasking, conformity and being different than the pack, and being mentored in real time and online.
The result? The good news is that more women are prepared to step into the roles of both student and teacher en masse and on so many levels. The bad news is that we have less and less time for the equally important passive “inbound” learning where we can take time to increase our own Theory of Mind and ability to discern seemingly random patterns in the events/environment/actions around us, internalize those experiences i.e. observations/lessons, and use both our nurtured intellectual creativity and innate emotional/psychological nature to problem solve and create innovation; the raison d’être of entrepreneurship.
Add the clamoring voices of social media to one’s daily routine and it’s no wonder one’s inner landscape can have barren patches and one’s inner voice can be drowned out over time! That’s one of the reasons I painstakingly blog about the articles that touch me (and I save to Pocket and/or Evernote) and the books on my radar.
it’s becoming increasingly difficult for women like me to just “be” and balance work/life to our satisfaction. So that we are more successful at balancing our humanity with our technology. So that we can bravely and humorously acknowledge the truth about our reality, in the business arena, and in the entrepreneurship arena.
What’s the solution for today’s female entrepreneur? Should we concentrate our efforts on launching a product with a quick exit strategy and IPO aspirations? Should we take an example from the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp which shows us the dark side of the economy, where purpose is sidelined by a quick-fix of profit? As Robert Reich writes:
"WhatsApp’s value doesn’t come from making anything. It doesn’t need a large organization to distribute its services or implement its strategy."
What about the dark side of Silicon Valley? I find myself agreeing with Truan Wadwa’s take on the WhatsApp deal:
"Few entrepreneurs want to build brands that last anymore. Silicon Valley looks down upon those who are not trying to sell out to a corporate giant as soon as possible."
Where are we going wrong? The time has come for entrepreneurs to ask this question….of each other, and themselves.
I believe that the first step to answering this question begins with accountability to self. Entrepreneurs are not just purveyors of disruptive innovation. Their unique skill set, story, vision, mission, and transparency make them accountable to others in some ways more than the average business employee, even if they are bootstrapping. I believe that entrepreneurship today entails thought leadership, civic leadership, and meaningful leadership and mentorship that promotes purpose AND profit, real value, and human growth; educational, social, economic, and psychological.
I have written of this in my book and since I started blogging. I have been continuously sounding a CTA (Call to Action) to better balance our humanity and technology and harness both our nature and the skills which were nurtured along the entrepreneurial journey for the greater good, benefit, and education of our children and theirs.
What kind of message is Facebook really sending with its acquisition of WhatsApp? What kind of message is conveyed in the way one mentors, hires, and fires others? I’m curious whom Mark Zuckerberg seeks counsel from. I’m interested in knowing how many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley have mentors outside “the zone” or what makes them decide it’s time to move on and seek aid elsewhere.
In my experience, which I write about in my book, there comes a point when one needs to embrace meaningful change and move forward, or stagnate and be overcome by inertia or worse- boredom and negativity. Few people talk or write about when to discard a mentor; in real time or online. A real time mentor is someone you’ve personally known and been invested in, who has invested in you, and the symbiotic relationship can be very fruitful. Until it’s not. That’s what makes it a double edged sword.
Who mentored Jan Koum and Brian Acton, founders of WhatsApp? Whom have they mentored? What civic engagement and social entrepreneurship plans do they have after getting their 19 billion dollars? Can WhatsApp move beyond its potential for increased narcissistic preoccupation with selfies and decreased productivity?
Readers, please send me any relevant posts you find! I’ve looked and haven’t seen anything besides their reaction of giddy euphoria and their rags to riches origin story!
In light of the WhatsApp acquisition, tonight’s closing ceremony in Sochi, the long awaited arrest of El Chapo in Mexico, the passing of the oldest known Holocaust surviver Alice Herz-Sommer, and the passing of Maria von Trapp, the last sibling of Sound of Music fame, I think it’s apropos to share this excerpt from my book, The NICE Reboot:
Ten Warning Signs-When to Discard a Mentor: If These Traits Are Repeatedly Displayed (Listed in Descending Levels of Importance)
- Poor problem solving skills
- Poor time management and organizational skills
- Lack of risk aversion
- Lack of curiosity
- Communication breakdowns
- Disinterest in your actual service/product even though there may be interest in your accomplishments as a person or professional (translation: wants a free ride)
- Technophobic (this will interfere with your own time management, organizational, and communication skills with said mentor, and beyond)
A cursory look at the above list may reveal that the WhatsApp folks chose well in partnering with Facebook to get their once-in-a-lifetime deal. A deeper look at my list shows how problematic the current propaganda and canon of “truisms” coming from the Silicon Valley blogosphere really is re: the role of entrepreneurship and its divergence from leadership opportunity in a society so hungry for meaning and purpose.
It also shows that it’s time to reevaluate priorities and the mapping of one’s entrepreneurial mission i.e. its soul, NOT its product design, as so many startup wannabe techies are now shortsightedly wont to do.
It is fortunate that part of the human learning experience means learning when to emulate, stay still, or change course. Our future depends on us collectively learning how to do this better, and how to collectively internalize the right lessons at the right time. It begins with more of us in entrepreneurship, especially women, setting examples and exemplifying the kind of leadership and emotional intelligence we are capable of, that help us ALL make better short term AND long term decisions that will positively affect us globally, technologically, and socially for decades to come.
"Social media should be used to grow your network and connect with people that you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.Just like working on a “live” relationship, followers need to be engaged and nurtured, not just collected to boost numbers."
- Maria Feola- Magro, 2013, Director of Events at Business Development Institute (BDI)
"Do you wonder why your productivity has dropped over the past 2 – 3 years? There is a time sink and it’s not television!"
- Jeff Bullas, 2011, Digital/Social Media Marketing Strategist
There are often two sides to everything, and there’s usually a way to harness time in all endeavors, including technology use in entrepreneurship. It’s something I learned as an educator and experience daily as an entrepreneur. I advocate using social media for professional reasons and make time to do it myself for that reason. Like many of us, I’ve created an online digital platform across various social channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Slideshare, 3 blogs, and About.Me). It’s part of due diligence and maintenance so I try to “keep calm and carry on”; without automating any of it-yet!
In truth, having a digital avatar i.e. a digital footprint and a social media marketing campaign when deploying your Hook or launching your service/product are foregone conclusions in entrepreneurship today.
Why? Several reasons:
• Social technology sites make us more globally connected, with ramifications for doing more civic engagement as startup entrepreneurs.
• Social technology enables us to provide thought leadership re: present trends and scope of practice in entrepreneurship. That is actually something I’m trying to do when writing blogposts here and elsewhere about relevant topics such as humor in content marketing; my current series on Wordpress. (I’m holding a contest there so please click the word “humor” and read my post for more details! Thanks!)
• Understanding social media helps us implement more human, productive and customized user experiences when sharing content. We need to curate and share more content that matters and that adds value to the collective conversation, especially in these trying times!
• Social media by default makes us entrepreneurs all marketers who need to embrace our inner Networking Archetype and become students of buyer personae. That’s why I avidly follow and endorse/recommend Diane Bertolin’s blog, Google+ Posts, and Twitter feed!
• Social channels help us expand our “reach” while simultaneously teaching us (through repeated interactions and analytics of those actions) the art of selling and personal as well as company branding; something seen from the recently launched Kahlua Pinterest Campaign and Curalate’s case study on it, which can be downloaded here.
*DISCLAIMER* I’m not a drinker but I LOVE making my Chocolate Kahlua Cake and Kahlua Cocoa-Pecan Pie! I also put a dash of Kahlua in my chili and brisket recipes…..putting me in the “food porn” demographic Kahlua trying to appeal to now :)
Readers of my blogposts, especially my latest one (and the previous one) for The Huffington Post already have a sense of what I stand for. Readers of my book, (which will hit stores this week pending the #snowmageddon many of us are enduring), will know that I believe it’s time to embed MORE purpose (not just profit) and philanthropy if possible, into the DNA of all entrepreneurship! It is why I am diligently working on launching The NICE Initiative.
It is also why I was so impressed with Jennifer Hirsch’s recent article How to Create More Social Entrepreneurs, well worth reading and saving to Pocket or Evernote, or both, as I frequently do!
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”
Habits are learned, like almost everything else in life. All of human behavior is a seesaw of action —> reaction, and the same is true for our digital avatar’s behavior too.
Social media activity, visibility, and strategy can be learned, which is why I follow Peg Fitzpatrick on Google+ and subscribe to her blog, and do the same for Rebekah Radice, just to name a few. Social media best practices and the philosophy behind it can be learned, which is why I follow Brian Solis on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as Gary Vaynerchuck, whose recent post for Medium spurred this one by Ryan Jenkins on the Business2Community Blog I read regularly. It got me thinking about human learning, social media, and the many intellectual and emotional threads connecting the two.
Attention Female Entrepreneurs, whom I understand are busy and trying to complete that endless to-do list….but who already have the “helpful gene” and understand the value of collaboration and paying it forward…..It’s time for more of us to make a habit of putting the “social” back in social media by becoming more active there by:
1. Providing USEFUL information via social media that enhances one’s day; personally and professionally. This can include tips, interesting articles by others, and links to humorous photos/videos/sites that can make your day. I try to do this across my entire digital platform, and maintain a positive and helpful outlook and vibe. I recently started curating content for my public i.e. shared Evernote notebook of interesting and helpful PDFs for women entrepreneurs, which is available on my website, or by clicking here.
2. Providing EDUCATIONAL blogposts and promoting them on social media to provide virtual mentorship, something I wrote of in my last post here on Tumblr. I’m trying to do this, and would appreciate any feedback on what kinds of questions and topics you’d like to see in the future. I have learned much from other bloggers, particularly from Marty Zwilling’s blog. In it, he provides practical takeaways from his vast experience and/or from business books he reviews. It’s a great example of virtual mentorship!
3. Providing SUPPORTIVE posts/ forums/threads and expressions of appreciation on their own social media by commenting, re-sharing, and thanking others for their contributions. You can do this when you enhance your Emotional IQ, act human at work, and practice punctuality when posting online. It involves more than refraining from bombarding others with selfies or promo-selfies! I recommend you look at the Twitter feeds of both Rieva Lesonsky and Michelle Glover to see what I mean. I recommend that you visit some of the Google+ Online Communities to see the supportive environments being nurtured….which leads to my final point.
Here’s a real Email exchange from a week ago (cited with permission) between Athaliah Renee Talbot, a fellow female startup entrepreneur who read one of my Google + posts for the Female Entrepreneur’s Lounge (or was it the Women Entrepreneurs Who Change the World?) and commented, prompting me to thank her and invite her to continue the conversation via Email. She did, and a question/answer session ensued, culminating with my response to her statement:
Hi, thanks for the thoughtful response. I am often unsure how to move forward with developing my business because I am unsure about how to use the technology in a proficient way.
Thanks for clarifying! I now understand that I am not the business you’re looking for to help you with yours :) I’m in consulting/strategizing, and you seem to be looking for providers of mobile tech and specific video equipment etc. May I then suggest these links…..
Good Luck with your quest!
How did I learn about these tips and services? By reading other people’s social media posts, carefully curating content and saving it, and attending networking events/conferences and ASKING questions I had, without fear of censure, so that I could learn.
Human learning is predicated on asking questions, so that we can discern patterns of acceptable behavior, forge connections between ideas and practice, and understand how the world “works” and how people in our immediate world contribute to its gears. (It’s why my Twitter page wallpaper has a photo of gears.)
The very essence of social interaction is based on wanting to know what someone thinks and feels. Don’t we ask questions or provide information in anticipation of being asked questions on dates and/or interviews? Shouldn’t we do the same via our digital avatars?
What questions are you asking and/or answering by the types of social media posts you generate? How are you contributing to our collective learning process? Where is the digital imprint of your humanity felt the most?
I wish you less surface and fleeting learning experiences and social interactions in real time and online, and more opportunities to ASK questions and get good responses!
"In Silicon Valley, it’s easy to end up with a narrow, tunnel-vision view of the work you’re doing and an insular perception of what technology means. It’s easy to get so focused on site data, product reviews, and industry blogs, that even some of the smartest people on the planet, building some of the most world changing products in all of history, often forget that there are actual human beings on the other side of technology."
- Randi Zuckerberg, Author: Dot Complicated
"Mindful Connectivity is what will make social media impact on society. It’s why I created the Pay It Forward Group on LinkedIn. I think there should be “mirrors” built in to our phones and computers so that we can look ourselves in the face before we hit the send button and ask “is this really who I really am?”. Otherwise we are just lost to the isolation that is the darker side of the technology."
- Douglas La Tulipe, CMOS Derivatives Integration Engineer
It’s snowing now for the third time in a week in my neck of the woods. I am tired of all that white. And the shoveling. And the cold. And all those layers. While I enjoy watching the snow and icy terrain in the background when viewing the Winter Olympics on TV, (especially figure skating & snow boarding) I miss being outdoors and seeing the sun, not to mention daylight savings time! How am I coping? Four ways:
1. Maintaining my sense of humor about stuff, or at least trying!
2. Catching up on my reading.
4. Getting virtual mentorship (something well known in the world of speech therapy) online via social media.
Outcome? I’m staving off cabin fever and staying even tempered and engaged and productive (I hope!). I’m learning so many practical and psychological insights and takeaways on misc. topics in entrepreneurship and beyond. I’m taking virtual trips, having virtual classes, and augmenting my reality with a virtual overlay, enriching my inner landscape and helping me cognitively harness time.
Through other people’s social media posts, especially on blogs, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I’m gaining access to a vast array of thought leadership the likes of which are changing the process of human learning, even as I write this.
To give you a taste of the virtual mentorship offerings out there, I want to share a few tidbits and links worth checking out. Here are some posts that are currently impressing me and on my radar, beginning with Sarah’s post on why writing is an act of bravery. I’ve also learned a lot about human nature such as 8 essential truths about people, the art & science behind one’s digital avatar, 11 life lessons on productivity from Albert Einstein, 12 lessons on perseverance from Amelia Earhart, the power of emotion and big ideas, which TED talks can influence my view on social relationships, how generating value can influence my social media followers, which child-like traits can help me pursue entrepreneurship, how to engage in online psychological warfare with my social media marketing campaign, and love in the time of advertising.
Having to stay indoors with WiFi and a steaming bowl of home cooked soup, watching Charlie White and Meryl Davis come in first place in their ice dance routine to the music of Scheherazade is not a bad way to spend a few hours….or a few days as it were :) Or so I keep telling myself!
In truth, I’ve always loved reading. Reading blog posts online satisfies both my inner student and my inner tech girl. Much of what I’m drawn to follows a pattern, and those of you following my blogpsts know how much I love discerning patterns! Nothing is random, something I’ve believed since I was little, and believe even more now when my Email’s inbox, Zite App, and library book wish list all point me in the same direction….
I’m learning so many useful things to help me better balance my humanity and technology in entrepreneurship. It’s the goal of my NICE Initiative, the theme in my book, and the thread weaving together my entire digital footprint. I am following the digital footprint of others and avidly reading their contributions to this thing called life.
I am slowly changing my outlook on how I view disruptive innovation and innovation in general. On the importance of having suspension of disbelief as a startup entrepreneur, not just when watching TV shows or The Lego Movie.
I’m using this time to curate content the old fashioned way, as I have not yet given in to social media automation where I will lose the ebb and flow of my lessons and my human interaction therein. I’m using this time to file away knowledge gleaned both physically in the “cloud” and mentally in my memory banks, in a more cohesive, sequential manner.
Even more gratifying is that I’m actually retaining and synthesizing much of what I’ve read with my own insights using my NICE lens so that I am paying it forward. I’m “in the zone”, sharing lessons with others on entrepreneurship such as those in my latest article for my weekly column there on myths of entrepreneurship.
I’m an educator turned entrepreneur who views virtual mentorship as an asset, not a crutch. It allows one to learn at his/her own pace. It provides thought leadership on a plethora of topics that can make one a more well rounded, knowledgeable individual in today’s iEra of customizable, wearable tech and the paradigm shift to Project Based Learning (PBL). It results in using social media for both profit AND purpose, which has been my raison d’être for working on launching The NICE Initiative.
I don’t know what the future holds re: best practices in digital citizenship and how that will affect human learning in the 21st century. I do know that its impact will be felt across all arenas; education, social technology, medicine, social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship. I do know that our definition of success is changing steadily.
Virtual mentorship trends will need to change accordingly to keep up, and help us keep up too; with each other and perhaps with our own content curation. The mind can absorb only so much content, before our hearts urge us to take a stand and start The Journey to make a difference and do work that matters. There comes a crossroads, a point in life when we all feel that calling.
What stand will you take, and whose teachings will inspire you to do so?
"The road to success is always under construction."
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."
- Albert Einstein
The Oxford Dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose or the attainment of profit”. But what does success really mean to people in today’s globally connected but emotionally fragmented world? For today’s entrepreneur, especially a female entrepreneur? One who by default wears many hats and multi-tasks constantly? For those in the business arena finally getting the message that a better work/life balance involves pursuing purpose AND profit by factoring in the human element i.e. our need to learn from and to connect with others and help them? For those in the educational arena teaching and shaping minds but mistakenly quantifying gains through flawed systems, such as standardized tests and Common Core Standards?
The seeds of success get planted in our brains, in our inner landscape, with each new learning experience and episodic and muscle memory gleaned from our five senses. Mentorship, apprenticeship, teaching, and self-learning all help us plant these seeds.
But reverse mentorship, which has a psycho-social as well as cognitive element, is what nourishes those seeds, giving people the opportunity to play a more active and purposeful role in the collective human learning process.
Reverse mentorship is a term coined by former CEO Jack Welch, who paired his General Electric newer employees with more seasoned ones so that lessons could be exchanged in a more symbiotic and psychologically collaborative and empowering environment. I write more about it in my book, and Lisa Quast writes more about the benefits of reverse mentorship in the workplace as well.
When you think about, what is reverse mentorship exactly? It’s the opportunity to gain skills you lack while allowing you to actively review what you have learned, and hone your leadership abilities along the way. It’s a chance for you to acknowledge the power of human learning as a two way street whose pedestrians ALL have something to teach each other. It’s a chance to exercise both your mind and your heart by enabling you to raise your Emotional IQ, connect to others purposefully and positively, so that together, you achieve your goals and your version of success.
Reverse mentorship has intellectual and emotional benefits in that it is undertaken with the understanding that it’s not about a show of power, it’s not about having minions, and it’s not about playing catch-up. It’s about using your different multiple intelligences to grow in learning and humanity, both of which are truly achieved when we help others do the same. I learned this as a speech therapist where mentorship and internships are built into the undergraduate degree and entire graduate school experience.
I learned this as an educational consultant and clinical supervisor in the public school system who bartered with my mentees and engaged in reverse mentorship with them, especially when social technology first launched. I was always a tech-geek, albeit a MacGirl and Apple™ Techie. I say that with pride, and a bit of a strut :) But I needed some help and wasn’t afraid to show vulnerability and that I actually didn’t know it all <gasp>. I wasn’t yet a bona fide entrepreneur or even fledgling marketer like I am now. I was a fill grown adult with habits and preferred ways of doing things when the mobile technology movement took off, so social media took some getting used to. But embracing change, especially disruptive innovation is the raison d’être of successful entrepreneurs, especially ones with flexible, fluid, and forward thinking mindsets.
So I got help from my mentees. I taught them best practices re: speech therapy, Autism intervention, and special education etc. and they taught me about Facebook, Google +, Twitter, and Pinterest etc. The result? Increased learning on both sides, increased mutual respect and personal feelings of productivity, and increased good will and an overall sense of wellbeing. Viva la reverse mentorship, one of the best kept secrets around!
Reverse mentorship is a way for human beings to engage in psycho-social checks and balances and keep our hearts open by not letting power go to our heads. As I wrote in my latest article for The Huffington Post,
"Mentorship is a fluid process that begets leadership, imbues power with purpose, and leverages one’s skillset for the greater good."
The same can be said for reverse mentorship; whose added benefit is that it psychologically helps us feel good and subsequently do good simultaneously. How many wars have started because of corrupt people in power feeling that dangerous sense of entitlement or worse, malaise? Think of movie villains and the harm they cause. Think of Darth Vader in Star Wars. Think of Loki in Thor. Think of Spiderman’s best friend Harry. Think of Harry Potter’s nemesis Draco Malfoy. I was deeply bothered by yesterday’s SuperBowl ad for the Jaguar Coupe because
• The commercial was ALL about men; half the population! We only see a glimpse of the back of a woman’s head at the start, for a millisecond!
• The commercial’s message was “it’s good to be bad”, and that Brits make the best bad guys. Period.
HUH? I have to get on my soapbox, just for a few seconds! What kind of gender profiling, culturally insensitive, undermining, uninformed, and oxymoronic message is this? We’ve come so far in teaching our children the value of pursuing good, collaboration, teamwork, and global awareness. I for one was insulted by this commercial, especially as a female educator AND entrepreneur! Especially since the commercial depicted inaccurate video conferencing (but an accurate portrayal of the isolation of those male villains…did you see how they were alone?) I much preferred the awesome commercial and message GoldiBlox sent out to all the men and boys and particularly all the girls and their moms, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, friends, teachers, and neighbors watching the SuperBowl. Talk about reverse mentorship and changing outlooks!
Siobhan Harmer writes that you can “actually transform your brain’s architecture using positive emotions, consistent focus and practice. Certain thoughts and activities set off strings of synapses between parts of the brain” i.e. rewiring the brain and readying it for your successful outcomes. Your intellect and drive; the two “children” of the brain can start you on that train ride to success. They are traits that are LEARNED, not genetic! See this video clip of a 14 year old girl’s TED Talk for proof.
Erik Wahl, an artist and entrepreneur also believes that catalysts of success such as “innovation, differentiation and creativity have been wrongly diagnosed as being a genetic trait” as well. I agree with him when he says “It is practice, a discipline skill that everyone has access to tap into.” At a recent Entrepreneur Growth Conference he had participants get up and move around and engage in a geotagging activity, which is really a large scale opportunity for reverse mentorship!
So how does an entrepreneur methodically pursue and engage in productive reverse mentorship to achieve success? Joel Garfinkle has some practical suggestions which you can read here. Victor Hwang, a social entrepreneur I respect and follow online, has some very interesting insights about the 5 rules of success in Silicon Valley that can work anywhere. Carmine Gallo, a “self professed student of the life and career of Steve Jobs” provides a relevant list of seven rules of success. They can be translated into reverse mentorship opportunities, especially if you are trying to learn more about harnessing the power of social media and networking outside your industry; two things I HIGHLY recommend as an entrepreneur.
Another exercise I recommend is that entrepreneurs hone their sense of humor. Why? To increase resiliency of self, and to foster emotional resonance with others who cross your path either as a customer, mentor, collaborator or all three. It’s something I wrote more about in my latest blogpost on Wordpress which you can read here.
Pursuing and engaging in successful reverse mentorship, let alone entrepreneurship, hinges on due diligence and doing your homework. That’s where another type of mentorship comes in; virtual mentorship. I touched on it in last week’s post and will write more about that next week. For now, I want to leave you with some food for thought, such as these spot-on 8 essential questions by Scott Anthony for the Harvard Business Review, and this interesting blogpost about how to become a high-impact entrepreneur by Greg Kawere.
I also want to point out that as a mentor and mentee, I always strive for balance, and for becoming more well rounded in my thoughts and actions. That’s why I am working on launching The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship (TBA). That’s why I encourage you to pursue virtual and actual mentorship and reverse mentorship using learning/networking opportunities and people outside of your industry, your comfort zone, and your realm of experience. That’s why I am so enamored with my Zite App, and am now crushing on the Curious App for iPad too. That’s why I regularly follow the Lifehack blog and subscribe to their Emails. That’s why I try to connect with diverse people from diverse locations, especially on LinkedIn and Twitter. I invite you to connect with me there, and let me get to know you. I’m positive we have much to learn from each other and I welcome the opportunity!
"Who is on your high council of Jedi knights?"
"They did not get onto that ladder alone. They are there only because someone helped them take the first step."
- Paul Tough, author, How Children Succeed
January is National Mentorship Month in the USA, although I believe mentorship is needed all year round. I believe that mentorship, when done right, is a two way street one engages in, and is engaged in; at work and at home. I’ve written about mentorship before here in Tumblr, in a post about mentorship vs. sponsorship. You can read it again here if you want to. I have both given and received mentorship at different points in my life and career as a pediatric speech therapist and then an entrepreneur. It has shaped my outlook and conduct, and my overall learning process.
Human beings need to be engaged in learning; about themselves and others, to forestall inertial, boredom, arrogance, and stagnant thinking. That’s why we need mentors, and to be mentors for others.
I write about this extensively in The NICE Reboot, and it’s been a running theme in my blogposts; here, in Wordpress, and in The Huffington Post. One of the most profound essays I ever read on human learning was by Dr. Cherie Carter Scott, author of If Life is a Game, These Are the Rules. In it she lists Ten Rules for Being Human. If there’s ever a time to click one of my many links in my posts for further information, this is it! For those who are purists when it comes to reading blogs, who are still averse to taking “the road less traveled by” (you know who you are but you may not know what you’re missing out on:-) here are her rules:
The Ten Rules For Being Human by Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott:
1. You will receive a body.
2. You will be presented with lessons.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.
4. Lessons are repeated until learned.
5. Learning does not end.
6. “There” is no better than “here.”
7. Others are only mirrors of you.
8. What you make of your life is up to you.
9. All the answers lie inside of you.
10. You will forget all of this at birth.
We all strive to make sense of our humanity and elevate its spark inside us on a daily basis. Another great set of rules about being human can be found in the Marc and Angel Hack Life blog, another worthwhile read. Human learning is a process, and the need for teachers/mentors/guides is embedded in that process, and is integral to its success and outcome. That’s why school is important. That’s why Malala’s story is so important to read; as a woman and an entrepreneur.
As I wrote in my book:
Education of oneself, and educating others, is predicated on the idea of scaffolding previously learned skills, and applying them to new situations/events one experiences. To that end, it is no surprise that entrepreneurship, known for its atmosphere of fast paced, “carpe diem” unpredictability, has made mentorship positions increasingly pivotal and sought after. Mentors are much coveted and valuable assets for entrepreneurs because:
- Their experience helps the entrepreneur, especially a newly minted one, make sense of and navigate often unchartered territory; on many levels
- Their contacts help the entrepreneur expand his/her own network; a real coup in today’s ever expanding virtual address book due to social media
- Their advice can highlight avenues to leadership by pinpointing the entrepreneur’s own strengths and weaknesses, leading to purposeful searches for other mentors to augment skills sets, strategize how to bridge gaps, and provide support; emotional, financial, and cognitive
Some of the mentorship I received has been virtual, such as what I learned from Steve Jobs. I wrote about him, my first virtual mentor, (when I became a Mac Evangelist in special education in the 90s), in my latest Wordpress post about storytelling. You can read about him and the Apple Macintosh computer (which just turned 30) here. CJ Goulding also showcases the power of virtual mentorship, in a list of 13 life lessons from Steve Jobs in a post for Lifehack, another very interesting blog I follow. James Altucher points out that “everything is a mentor” including books and blogs, in an unconventional post on reinventing yourself. He has been one of my virtual mentors since 2011 when I came across his post on 100 rules for entrepreneurship thanks to my cherished Zite App. Another virtual mentor of mine has been Martin Zwilling, who also writes about the power of mentorship, specifically re: entrepreneurship.
Some of the entrepreneurial mentorship I received has been “hands on”, which is equally valuable, sometimes more. I want to publicly give thanks again to people who have so graciously and excellently mentored me: Jim Pennypacker my book editor at Maven House Press, Rieva Lesonsky, author and Founder/CEO Grow Biz Media, Pam Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation and Body of Work, who herself writes and speaks of mentoring, Diane Bertolin AKA The Strategist, an Archetypal Consultant for marketing, prolific blogger, and social media expert, and Dave Mosby, author of The Paradox of Excellence and Executive Director of Keiretsu Forum Academy. I have learned so much from each of them! My life, my writings, my inner landscape, and my Theory of Mind are all richer because of them and their teachings.
As I wrote in my book:
Entrepreneurship requires the intrinsic ability to adapt to one’s circumstances, while simultaneously finding new ways to positively exploit them, and implement change. It stands to reason then, that a mentor must exhibit characteristics, and execute behaviors, which are in sync with those of this type of mentee, namely improvisation for further innovation; verbally and philosophically. Only then, can the entrepreneur truly benefit from the mentor’s outlook, perspective, and advice.
I have learned that there are several questions I needed to ask myself before pursuing entrepreneurship let alone a mentor. Some of those are universal, and are listed in this post by Henry Afekuana for the Project Eve blog. I also think it’s important to compile a list of traits to seek out in a mentor, before you go out and find one. I listed 10 in my book:
10 Qualities to Look For-Listed in Descending Levels of Importance:
1. Accessibility: physical and emotional
2. Diverse background and thinking (to help you see other viewpoints)
3. Solution oriented constructive criticism
4. Detail oriented approach to mentoring (follows “the script” and provides guidance for both the basics and minutiae of the process)
5. Well connected and well respected in chosen field
6. Ability to Improvise
7. Sense of humor
8. Initiates-asks questions about your service/product, philosophy, and timeline
9. Collaborative: admits mistakes and “shares the glory”
10. Technologically aware (doesn’t need to be savvy, but needs to be aware and somewhat knowledgeable so as to share common language/ground with you)
I first learned about the concept of a mentor in a high school English literature class. The prototype for today’s mentor is attributed to Homer’s The Odyssey. It introduces the reader to Mentor, the best friend who protects and raises Odysseus’s son, Telemachaus, while his father is away. Mentorship as a process, was later attributed to Florence Nightingale, who is credited with having founded the nursing profession as we know it.
Mentorship is still a standard practice today, especially in the field of speech-language pathology, (and in many other professions as well), where my union, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has implemented an organic system for evaluating performance, supporting education of best practices, and providing professional “tweaking” by giving
• Constructive criticism (in a humorous, not insulting way)
• Opportunities to emulate a role model
One of my other early virtual mentors and role models has been Guy Kawasaki. I’ve been following him since his pioneering days marketing the Apple Macintosh computer and becoming its first Mac Evangelist. He has written many terrific books I highly recommend, but now I will suggest one; Enchantment. In it on page 28, he lists 12 ways to be a “mensch” i.e. a genuine human being. I think it’s a wise blueprint for a life well lived, and applies to mentors and mentees in particular.
Today’s increasingly complex and competitive workplace demands that people experience “both sides of the table” for better collaboration with others, personal productivity, and innovative problem solving.
Aren’t these the hallmarks of human learning? So that we could take our varied experiences and episodic memories and “connect the dots”?
To be continued……..
"I am a woman in process. I’m just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, and learn from it. Life is never dull."
- Oprah Winfrey
"As far as technology itself and education is concerned, technology is basically neutral. It’s like a hammer. The hammer doesn’t care whether you use it to build a house or whether on torture.”
- Noam Chomsky
As someone interested in patterns and how to positively exploit them in entrepreneurship, I don’t know where to look first! Life has gotten even more interesting these past 2 weeks, on and off the court :) Google acquired Nest, Martin Luther King Day spurred LOTS of food for thought in the blogosphere and beyond, many of us have been hit with a major snow storm and frigid temps, and the Mac is about to turn 30 on January 24, 2014.
All of these events have coalesced into one takeaway: It’s time to act on the ongoing monologs and dialogues about human learning vs. machine learning, and global implications for entrepreneurship.
I’ve said/written this before and feel the need to do again:
Life is about balance; work/life, humanity/technology, Me/We, and architecture/artistry. The more we learn about ourselves and use that to help the world, the better we get at balancing, growing, and sustaining that growth.
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is about that growth. It depicts a pyramid with “self actualization” at the top of it. I studied it as a grad student getting my Master’s degree in speech-language pathology at NYU, and studied it again when I became an entrepreneur. I’m learning more about it right now, while reading Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow by Chip Conley. I liked it so much, I put it in my Amazon Collection for others to see!
As I wrote in my latest post on Wordpress (where I am writing a series on storytelling in digital content marketing):
"Human behavior is about our pervasive reactions to patterns in the environment; social, educational, technological, and cultural, all of which are essentially an agglomeration of what drives our economy."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an excellent observer, writer, and teacher of human behavior. We just honored him at the national level; a person who exemplified living a life dedicated to moving humanity forward. His life is one we can all learn from, including his inspirational words that live on. I paid tribute to him in my latest article for my Huffington Post column, which you can read here. I also created a Slideshare deck with some of his best quotes, and some quotes of my students with Autism/Special Needs, all of whom teach us about the power of education, tolerance, and being human.
The human factor is truly what counts in life; professionally and personally. Leveraging our humanity in ALL our pursuits is the key to success, to crafting a lasting legacy, and to self actualization. That’s why this blogpost by Brandon Schaefer got my attention. That’s why I saw the movie Her.
Kyle Vanhemert wrote an interesting piece where he dissects the movie and the process Spike Jonze engaged in to make it.
"Jonze arrived at a critical insight: Her, he realized, isn’t a movie about technology. It’s a movie about people. With that, the film took shape. Sure, it takes place in the future, but what it’s really concerned with are human relationships."
The human relationship, with ourself, and with others, is what shapes us as sentient beings who can learn from/act on the environment and impose our will on others (in a good way:) Who can drive innovation and collaboration and growth at work. We all have a unique inner landscape that changes with every human experience we have; either in our interactions with others, or our perceptions of our own five senses. That inner landscape is integral to a person psycho-social and intellectual growth. It expands and adapts as we learn, interact, and further develop it and our Theory of Mind; no matter our race, religion, geographical location or socio-economic status.
Technology is a tool that helps us expand our Theory of Mind and actualize/execute what’s in our inner landscape for the collective benefit of humanity….whether it’s used for mass media, mobile devices, social media, Big Data, robotics, or artificial intelligence AKA machine learning. That is the root of disruptive innovation today, no matter what form it takes, or which trajectory.
When you think of it, The Internet of Things is the de-privatization of the learning processes inherent to the human condition and one’s inner landscape!
We are all seeing the rise of the machines, pervading our daily personal lives more than ever. The Google-Nest partnership is just the beginning. It will be interesting to see the upcoming technological advances and professional/entrepreneurial opportunities re: new gadgets . Ones that can actually enhance the human experience in today’s tech-driven culture. It will be interesting to see how The Internet of Things (IoT) actually manifests, and what that means for humanity, not to mention the economy.
Elyse Betters attempts to define The Internet of Things and does it well:
"Connected devices are being handled by automatic systems over a wireless network. The result? You have a smart home, thanks to smart appliances, as well as a smart car and a smart office. In a nutshell: you have a smart life. Say hello to the Internet of Things."
The movie Her, The Internet of Things, the Google acquisition of Nest and its apparent interest in IoT, and Nest’s CEO Tony Faddell have all been on my mind because of what it all portends. Because of what this all reveals about the human drive to learn, and the interesting truth about our relationship with technology. Because of all the interconnected patterns I see using my NICE lens.
Because Google not only acquired Nest. It acquired the designs and inner landscape of someone who used to be part of the original iPod design team at Apple. Apple has always understood human nature and how people learn, from day one. You can see it from the 1984 ad. You can also see it from many faces of the Macintosh, and the creativity mantra of the new iPad Air ad. Hence me becoming an official Mac Evangelist in the 90s and a subsequent iPad Evangelist in the education and now entrepreneurship arena too.
What does machine learning mean for balancing Me/We in an increasingly digitally connected society? For global entrepreneurship opportunities in the education and ed-tech sectors? For job growth in the medical, social services, and mental health sectors; all of which may see booming business as we continue to struggle in earnest with our quest to balance humanity/technology for the greater good? For our personal lives as our children learn new ways to develop their own Theory of Mind and self concept?
People have long been speculating on the concept of “self” re: artificial intelligence, AKA Singularity. It’s something that is well displayed and becomes a reality in Her. Which raises more questions. Are our jobs safe from robots? Will machine learning continue to digitally archive our inner landscapes to facilitate human learning and sharing? (Think of what James Cameron portrays in his great movie Avatar; where the Na’avi people have the ability to upload/download memories/ life experiences for later generations.)
Or will machine learning replace human learning in our attempts to achieve connection and a semblance of control over our entire ecosystem? How will problem solving and self actualization look and feel in the future? How will interconnected “smart” technology affect marketing, something all entrepreneurs need to think about?
Tom Fishburne AKA The Marketoonist humorously tries to answer that last question in his post about the Internet of Things and the future of advertising, which you can read here. I highly recommend it, and his previous one too, for the funny cartoons alone, one of which I’ll show below.
Sam Volkering recently wrote a compelling post for investing in immersive technology:
"We are all technophiles at heart….Technology wriggles its way into your life whether you like it or not. This happened with the telephone, car, typewriter, personal computer, mobile phone and is now happening with immersive technologies. Every one of these technologies was a solution to a problem. A solution to make life easier in some form or another."
Problem solving is the catalyst of change and the basic essence of learning; for both human beings and machines. I know this from being an educator/Autism Specialist and ed-tech consultant. I’ve lived this as an MacGirl and entrepreneur. It is why I agree with Steven Levy’s assessment of the iPad and his prediction that tablets will change the world:
"The iPad represents an ambitious rethinking of how we use computers. No more files and folders, physical keyboards and mouses. Instead, the iPad offers a streamlined yet powerful intuitive experience that’s psychically in tune with our mobile, attention-challenged, super-connected new century."
It’s not the first time Apple has designed a tech-product aimed at addressing the human learning experience and the basic human need to address pain-points in a holistic manner. As a MacGirl since I was a child, I have seen their design, innovation, and problem solving skills in action, with each new Mac to hit the market. Read Matt Egan’s post about 5 Macs that changed everything, and led up to the technological revolution and social renaissance we are experiencing.
I always believed in Apple’s problem solving framework and vision of humanity and technology coexisting in the same ecosystem and user-interface. Like them, I believe it makes for better learning, social engagement with others, and self actualization. It is why I’m such a fan, professionally and personally!
I first wrote of the problem solving framework in my 2011 speech therapy article on my Socially Speaking™ Social Skills Curriculum for Young Children with Autism/Special Needs, which you can read here. Drake Baer also wrote about it when he shared Einstein’s problem-solving formula in 2013. CJ Golding touches on it, and its contributions to disruptive innovation in technology, in this list of 13 Inspiring Life Lessons from Steve Jobs.
When you connect all the dots and links I’ve provided in this post today, a pattern emerges. One that shows the importance of diversified experiences for human learning and episodic memory. One that shows the potential power of technology in all its facets, needed to make human learning more multidimensional and interesting. One that highlights the human drive and momentum to learn and change.
I am a technophile, and proud of it! But I never forget that it is the curious, creative, and indomitable human spirit that propels one to harness technology and learn in the first place. And then act on it to help others. That is the ultimate outcome, one I strive for every day.
"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward."
- Amelia Earhart
"The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom."
- Isaac Asimov
It is no secret that I advocate for balancing humanity and technology in pursuit of entrepreneurship, especially in today’s startup culture. We need to remain human in a high-tech world. We need to change our Hunger Games style mindset and embed more civic engagement and social entrepreneurship into the very DNA of our mission statements and business plans from the get go, so that our entrepreneurial trajectory is guided by higher purpose, in addition to profit. We need to be mindful of the importance of both human learning and machine learning; both of which affect our entrepreneurial service/product.
That is why I wrote an Open Letter to the CES in my latest article for The Huffington Post. That is why I am fascinated by artificial intelligence, now called machine learning. I am not alone. Machine learning is on my entrepreneurial radar and should be on yours too. It has practical applications to solving real life problems, which you can read about in Laura Hamilton’s Forbes article here. It has business applications you can learn more about in Mark Van Rijmenam’s Smart Data Collective blog post here. There is even a free course on it at Coursera.org, where you can learn “the most effective machine learning techniques, and gain practice implementing them and getting them to work for yourself.”
Many of Isaac Asimov’s theories of artificial intelligence have not yet come to pass. But they could…sooner than you think. I personally believe that anthropologists and scientists will need to look at his stories and writings down the line, especially those that coalesced into two seminal films I really love; I, Robot, and Bicentennial Man. Both excellent films exemplify the sense of urgency we are starting to have, standing on the threshold of a new frontier in human and social consciousness, and the subsequent machine learning that will ensue as a result.
While his predictions about humanity in 2014 are “wildly off”, according to Brian Merchant’s smartly written post in the hip Motherboard blog, Asimov’s understanding about the role of technology in supporting human learning and adaptibility is spot on, in my opinion. I especially like Merchant’s turn of phrase, which also makes my point:
"He reminds us that there was a time when scientific optimism and social egalitarianism helped build a pretty idealistic vision of the future—and if we’re willing to do some heavy tinkering, it might technologically be within our grasp."
Human learning is a life long process for the optimistic knowledge seekers in all of us. It’s the result of what is gleaned from our perceptions from our five senses, and our ability to cognitively harness time and technology, and make them work for us. To forge new pathways of thinking due to the brain’s elasticity and infrastructure, being mapped as I write this. Human learning hinges on the brain’s ability to form and catalog dendrites and synapses which are emerging, “firing”, and changing our “inner landscape on a daily, if not hourly basis. To open our minds to new ideas. To open our minds to being receptive to change and growth, as well as acting on it. How? By challenging the status quo; internally and externally.
This is the true essence of human learning, a divine gift of harnessing creativity and resiliency to move forward in life and offset inertia and stagnant thinking.
That’s why I am such an Apple™ fan, MacGirl, iPad Evangelist, and “techie”! One who was part of the Apple™ ecosystem early on; as an ed-tech consultant and trainer/keynote speaker since the 90s. I started raving and educating others about their software and have since graduated to iOS Apps.
Why? Because I understood right away what Apple only showed the world today……technology use (when used wisely) is not just about consumption, it is about creating. Creating what? New learning experiences. New frontiers for intellectual, emotional, and economic growth.
Human learning hinges on creativity! It takes the architecture (infrastructure of technology, behavior i.e. routines/habits, and episodic memories) of life and synthesizes it with a person’s experiences, dreams and aspirations, perceptions gleaned from the five senses, and beliefs, rendering an artistic tapestry that becomes our Story. Watch the new iPad Air commercial to see what I mean. (More on that in a bit).
Human learning is thus both an optimistic endeavor and outcome of being optimistic. It’s an outcome and result of being open to new ideas and experiences. It is enhanced by one’s IQ and Theory of Mind, both of which, when exposed to technology (especially when wielded wisely) can facilitate and nurture the human mind. To foster creativity, communication, and innovation, which in turn can all nurture the minds of others. This is something I have seen again and again as a pediatric speech therapist/ Autism Specialist and student of human behavior. Now as an educator turned entrepreneur.
Remember the other Apple™ commercial that went viral, the Macintosh marketing campaign in 1997; the famous ad Think Different? It became the Apple™ Mission Statement, and its famous mantra its social cause:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Those words really resonated with me during formative years in my life; professionally and personally. You can find Steve Jobs speaking those words on YouTube and/or by clicking here. That ad resonated with me so, because of its inherent message, and its awesome storytelling through visual imagery. Who can forget Amelia Earhart in front of her plane, or Pablo Picasso painting a bull?! That commercial takes on particular relevance today because:
• Amelia Earhart, portrayed in the 1997 Apple™ ad, is in the news again. She is still on our minds, especially mine; as a woman, and as an entrepreneur trying to “think different” and act on it.
"We just commemorated the "79th anniversary of the first solo flight from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, and Amelia Earhart was the pilot of that 1935 flight. Few people know of this aeronautical milestone but mention Earhart’s name and most everyone perks up; yes, they know who she is and they probably have an opinion on how or why she disappeared on her 1937 round-the-world flight. Defying gender roles, Amelia Earhart built an unorthodox career in a man’s world, earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, was a compelling force for women’s rights, and consistently made the Most Admired and Best Dressed women lists, a complex combination that allowed her to have a real and lasting impact."
- Dorothy Cochrane, Huffington Post, January 11, 2014, Why Does Amelia Earhart Still Resonate in the 21st Century?
• Apple™ hit a touchdown again, highlighting the need to synthesize human and machine learning. In a new iPad Air ad unveiled today during the NFL Playoffs, “Your Verse Anthem”, we are given food for thought about the poetry of living, learning, and creating. “What will your verse be?” is the question asked, in this brilliant monolog by Robin Williams from another excellent film I love, Dead Poet’s Society.
Why this question? I don’t particularly care for some of the condescending statements made by Apple™ detractors, and Daniel Eran Dilger agreed with me, but I do agree with this one:
"Apple wants to push the creative aspect of its mobile devices, which are still seen largely as consumption gadgets, and this new ad embraces a grand vision of iOS as fertile ground for inspiration and creation. The message is not only that the iPad is capable of true creativity, but also that it’s an aspirational device."
- Darrel Etherington, Tech Crunch Blog, January 12, 2014, Apple Gets Serious About The iPad’s Creative Power In New Ad
I don’t agree with Etherington’s later comment “This is a lifestyle ad”. I think he completely misses the point. Telling the ongoing Apple™ Story, and how it intersects with the Story of others is about learning, not lifestyle. It is about showcasing human learning and our desire to leave a meaningful legacy behind.
I am in the midst of writing a series of blog posts in my Wordpress Blog about the power of storytelling when planning one’s legacy and visual content marketing strategy to market an entrepreneurial service/product. In my latest post I wrote:
“Entrepreneurs can benefit and learn from hearing the stories of others, and from sharing theirs. They should be asking about the Story behind people they meet, and innovation they want to create, disrupt, sustain, leverage, emulate, and share with the world. Human beings all over our globally connected but increasingly emotionally fragmented world are hungry for stories. For meaning. For making sense of the seesaw of humanity and technology that is so crucial to balance in today’s iEra and Digital Age.”
So here’s to the iPad users and the creative, “outside the box” thinkers. Here’s to the thought leaders and purveyors of machine learning who are crafting a legacy, a legacy of learning and change. Here’s to the people working so hard to balance humanity and technology in their professional and personal lives. We need you. We need your Stories. Now more than ever. To add to the conversation. To add to the innovation. To add to the learning experience of what it truly means to be human in a high-tech world.
So do your thing; implement your mission, act on your beliefs, create something new, and do something great. It’s time to build a better version of yourself so that you can bring out the best in others. I’d love to help! Be in touch!
LinkedIn: Penina Rybak
"When you connect with a cause, it’s like falling in love."
- Debra Winger
"You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."
- Steve Jobs
Above are two of all time favorite quotes I have curated/clipped, using BrainyQuote.com, since I began writing my book last year, and writing roughly 3 blog posts a week. For those who may be new readers, you can find me here for the NICE Initiative, on Wordpress for my upcoming book, The NICE Reboot, and in The Huffington Post, for my weekly column on female entrepreneurship. Today’s post is a roundup of what you may have missed lately over the holidays, as I like to sync all my blogs and social channels. Call it a leftover mental/physical exercise from being part of the Apple™ ecosystem or call it habit, but I believe that ALL professionals today, no matter their industry or level of tech savvy, need to make sure that their digital footprint is consistent re: reflecting their latest posts and reflecting their brand.
Ready to “connect the dots”with mine?
I wrote this title for my latest HuffPost article, and it is apropos here: Start Your Engines: A Road Map For Female Entrepreneurs in 2014. In it, I listed four trends we can look forward to in the future. I also created a Slideshare deck about 4 steps to creating a better future for Global Female Entrepreneurship, with some cool photos worth checking out. My recent activity on Wordpress reflects what can be learned from the past. If you want to read my 2013 pop-culture retrospective on balancing humanity and technology, you can click here. If you want to get tips for improving your entrepreneurial workflow in the present re: content curation and “staying in the know”, read my Wordpress blog post here.
I have updated my website for The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship this month because a) my book will soon be out, and b) January is National Mentorship Month in the USA. A great time to begin promoting my two causes:
1. Help more women quickly and efficiently “learn the ropes” i.e. use virtual mentorship/thought leadership to bridge gaps between readiness to learn and actual performance re: entrepreneurship
2. Help more women pursue entrepreneurship that truly balances humanity and technology to promote meaningful and profitable change and a legacy that matters
• My Evernote Notebook of Freebies, accessible from my website. As a premium member, I can link an Evernote “holding pen” i.e. notebook (I have many) to my website, and add to it whenever I want. Thanks to my iOS Apps: Zite, Evernote, and Pocket, I have been able to curate content and write my book, including all my blogs! All 3 Apps are free, but I paid for an enhanced version of Evernote, for obvious reasons :)
• My Amazon Collection of books on my radar as a NICE entrepreneur (Nice, Informed, Competent, Entrepreneurship). I have designed my own PBL workflow based on my educational background and current entrepreneurial status. These are books I am in the middle of reading, want to read, or was recommended to read by sources I trust. For those who want to read about other entrepreneurship books, Marty Zwilling regularly writes reviews in his excellent, must-read blog, Startup Professional Musings, such as this one he posted today.
I hope this post today helps you “connect the dots” about my digital footprint, which will hopefully provide a bread crumb trail for you to follow and learn from in the coming year re: female entrepreneurship. I wrote this before and will again; I believe that 2014 will be THE year of the female thought leader and that women entrepreneurship will grow in both its ranks and impact. To that end, I want to provide a recap of my mission, and an invitation to Join the Journey for Change! This is copied from my website:
THE NICE INITIATIVE MISSION STATEMENT:
To embed social entrepreneurship into the DNA of all entrepreneurship. To provide strategies, forums, seminars, coaching, and opportunities, to help more women partake of both the Entrepreneurial and Tech Revolutions, which have now intersected. It’s time.
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much!"
- Helen Keller
"If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things."
The NICE Initiative Provides These Four Things for Women:
- A unique system which will specifically enhance women’s ability to think about and achieve financial success. This is to be achieved through mentorship to help women break through any glass ceiling adversely affecting either their business and/or career.
- Teach you to monetize your business by leveraging social media. How? Providing content visual marketing strategies re: Visual Storytelling with Humor and Emotion.
- Show you ways to use cutting edge technology to inexpensively fast track your financial success while balancing your humanity and technology
- To implement the iPad as a primary tool for your workflow to enhance creativty and productivity
Let me leave you with some more food for thought; two photos; one I created myself and one I curated from Pinterest, from my NICEInitiative Board there. Happy learning!
"Organize, agitate, and educate must be our war cry."
- Susan B. Anthony
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
Many people have hit the “pause” button this past week, taking a literal or figurative break from their daily routines and workflows. As we herald in 2014, it behooves us to pause and reflect. To think about how many inroads we have made in our daily lives to achieve our dreams and make them a reality. To ponder our continuing aspiration to improve our work/life balance. To tap into our potential and ability to create a sustainable legacy for others to learn from and share, no matter what our gender, background, personality, talent(s), or job description is.
I’ve written this before on several social channels, but it bears repeating:
"We women are hard wired to measure overall job satisfaction and pride in our performance, by calibrating how much of a positive impact we have on community, not just ourselves! It is why we willingly wear so many different shoes over the course of our days and lives, to multi-task and make a difference."
The Great Recession forever changed the work landscape in this country, and how we view it. This past year alone has seen the effects, especially that people ARE starting to think differently about work. About the “glass ceiling” at work, and how women CAN make a real difference in the very fiber of a company’s business plan and mission. This was the year we saw a surge in both the ranks of, and interest in female entrepreneurship. I believe in patterns, and that nothing happens randomly.
As an educator turned entrepreneur with social entrepreneurship leanings, I study patterns in the ebb and flow of the blogs, tweets, LinkedIn Influencer articles, and books being written. I have concluded that 2013 was the year of the Social Technology Movement, an offshoot of the Tech Revolution, thanks to the advances in mobile technology, thanks in part to Apple and their new iPhones and iPads.
Social media is here to stay and will continue to grow in relevance and thus be a powerful weapon in the working woman’s arsenal; whether she be an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, a Millennial new to the workforce or a semi-retired or retired woman looking for a second revenue stream, or any ladies in between. Mobile technology will continue to rapidly evolve and change the way we learn, do business, and communicate with others. There are a few other trends to look forward to in 2014, which I wrote about in my recent Wordpress blogpost, Gift Giving Revisited, A Look Ahead to 2014.
I now want to write about trends to watch in 2014, and which blogposts from 2013 started the breadcrumb trail that I will be following. I want to list 7 women to watch and follow in 2014, whose keen insights provide female entrepreneurs with puzzle pieces to rearrange. To discern patterns, to help them create disruptive innovation and orchestrate meaningful and profitable change; socially, educationally, and financially.
I want to list 7 female bloggers whose voices intermingled with my own inner voice while I was “connecting the dots” of my own entrepreneurial journey. I want to share my favorite blogposts of 2013 that vary in category and source, but together, weave a cohesive, connected gestalt of what women in the entrepreneurial arena face these days.
Before I continue, I need to write that my favorite writers are not listed because I love ALL their posts and can’t decide which one stands out! Rieva Lesonsky, Diane Bertolin, and Geri Stengel exemplify female entrepreneurship and virtual mentorship at its best. Thanks to my Evernote and Pocket Apps, I have their writings and lessons all saved and neatly categorized for future reference and study. Thanks to Twitter and my Zite App, I have been privileged to add other voices to my thought leadership pool, where I frequently visit and marvel at the breadth and depth of knowledge I can access; quickly, freely, and even while in pajamas!
I also take a special pride in reading/seeing/hearing how many more women have shared their thought leadership with us in 2013. Here are my favorite posts, in order of their calendar date debut. As you read this list, you will begin to understand why I gravitated towards these blogposts, especially if you have been following my musings here on Tumblr, Wordpress, and The Huffington Post. A clear pattern emerges, of which women to watch, and which trends to watch in 2014. Here are my carefully curated thought leadership examples from 2013 and my own takeaways I gleaned from each one, interpreted through my NICE lens:
1. Why Now is a Great Time to Be a Female Entrepreneur by Megan Totka. Takeaway: It’s time for more women to embrace Tech. Women must join the Tech Revolution, which has officially intersected with the Entrepreneurial Revolution. This goes beyond educating our girls in STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) courses. This is about leveraging the creation and use of Apps to promote global change. This will benefit ALL people, not just the entrepreneurial pipeline or team. This will have positive ramifications in the educational, medical, technological, and economic arenas around the world. (July 2013).
2. For Social Entrepreneurs: Which Comes First- Business or Mission? by Catherine Clifford. Takeaway: Having an element of social entrepreneurship is actually good for business! Embedding a social mission into your early plans when building a business helps “steer the ship” and provide clarity re: the trajectory of your mission and your “bottom line”. (October 2013).
Takeaway: It is long past time for intellectual property and gender specific entrepreneurship to be considered the only path to innovation, and the inalienable right of disruptive innovators of technology in sequestered male microcosms such as Silicon Valley. It is time to stop thinking of it as a male domain, and an arena where social causes are viewed only as stepping stones for publicity seekers on social media. It is also way long past the time for women to be judged by what they do with social technology; the content curation, content generation and distribution; and thought leadership venues where they can truly add value and promote change. (November 2013).Silicon Valley Isn’t a Meritocracy, And It’s Dangerous to Hero-Worship Entrepreneurs by Alice Hardwick.
Takeaway: The days of seeking actual customers and their endorsements of your entrepreneurial service/product can no longer be confined to actual storefronts or offices in real time. Digital storefronts and “shingles” have multiplied and continue to do so on social channels around the world. Everyone wants to “hang a shingle” virtually and entice customers to notice, partake, and spread the word. The buyer behavior and marketing strategies have thus been drastically altered; forever, or until our society evolves as a whole, or social media does; whichever comes first! To that end, the lines between our actual persona and digital avatar are increasingly blurred, forcing us to be hyper-vigilant in the way we represent ourselves and our interests online. (December 2013).How Social Currency Affects Behavior by Valeria Maltoni.
There you have it….the seven most powerful posts of 2013 that resonated with me long after I finished reading them. The ones that had a real impact on my NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship’s mission, philosophy, and trajectory. Women entrepreneurs and those who want to become one in 2014, take note! It’s time to collectively change the way we make our Plan, implement it, engage a potential client, woo them, how we persuade them to buy from us, and how we educate them and empower them, and thus retain their loyalty. It is time to leverage social media and its potential for synchronized Calls to Action (CTA) across platforms and continents, and its positive power to harness “group think” in a good way, not like the Borg from Star Trek! It’s time to collectively change the way we do business in today’s technologically driven, globally connected but psychologically fragmented world; whether we are an entrepreneur or intrapreneur trying to promote change and make it a better place.
I believe that 2014 will be THE year of the female thought leader, who impacts on others by actions and virtual mentorship, spurring female entrepreneurship to new heights.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, profitable, and meaningful new year. One where you make every day count, and count your accomplishments for each day with pride and a renewed sense of purpose!
I look forward to sharing your journey!
"I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver."
- Maya Angelou
"In a nutshell, loving someone is about giving, not receiving."
- Nicholas Sparks
This is a different kind of post for me. This is a post written for men, the other half of the population, whom I invite to read this post. Ladies, please share this post with the men in your life! Men whom I don’t mean to exclude when I write for this blog. But there are many breadcrumb trails and “good old boy” networks for entrepreneurship out there. Many related entrepreneurial blogs for men, written by men, and catering to men, waiting to be read. My soon to be launched NICE Initiative is geared for women, because there is a need, I am female, and the time has come for more women to “step up” and join the conversation.
Nonetheless, there have been many men whose paths I crossed in my recent travels, networking at conferences, or social get togethers, asking me for help. Asking for insight into the female psyche, especially when it comes to business, and more importantly- gift giving. The latter can make a full grown, self-actualized, successful, and intelligent man cringe and balk in ways that nothing else can, even when shopping online!
I know; I have a wonderfully sweet, giving, and brilliant father, who has taught college courses to women, and counsels them to this day. Who married and supported my unconventional, curious, caring, and creative mother in her career aspirations and intellectual pursuits; who instilled in me those drives as well. I grew up with very caring, smart brothers who went into fields such as medicine and investment banking. I’ve also dated many men; some great human beings and some not so much, and befriended most of my friends’ terrific spouses. They all share at least one thing in common; buying presents for their women still make them sweat! So I want to offer a few tips…..
At this time of year, no matter which holidays one keeps, who their friends are, or what kind of family dynamic one has, somewhere, somehow one is reminded to express thanks. To express appreciation and gratitude to each other, especially the women in one’s inner circle. To the women who birthed them. To the women who raised them. To the women who taught them. To the women who looked out for them, and still do, in a way that only siblings or relatives can. To the women who befriended them, worked with them, and dated them, helping them build a “better version” of themselves and prepare them for gift giving to the women in their lives who really matter.
In keeping with this week’s theme of gift giving, I wanted to share some more ideas. I wanted to share what I’ve learned about gift giving, which gifts are not time sensitive, and not exclusive to entrepreneurs. Please read about intangible gifts that keep giving, in Lolly Daskal’s recent blogpost. A profoundly moving, rather blunt list, which I read only after I wrote my own on Wordpress yesterday, and titled it pretty much the same thing, with a twist. Remember how often women tell the men in their lives to “get in touch with their softer, more emotional side”? Lolly’s blog, especially that post, will certainly help!
I also understand that men need information to increase their self confidence, so they don’t feel they are “stumbling in the dark”. Men want to take action, problem solve, and like clear directions. Just ask John Gray, author of the classic Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, which has been required reading in pop culture for the past two decades or so! Ask Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, who said about his employees, many of whom at the time were male:
"Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act."
I write more about Jack Welch in my upcoming book, when I give insight and advice for startup entrepreneurs about Reverse Mentorship, a practice he started in his company. Which leads me to my second point. I believe that books are the ONLY tangible gift that really keeps giving. I write why I think so, and which seven books I recommend that all men and women read, in my latest Wordpress blogpost, which you can read here.
I am a reader! I say that with pride. I say that with a bit of a strut :) I fell in love with reading, and libraries for that matter at age 3, and that love has only grown. I am not alone. There are actually two women on Pinterest who post pictures/links which are all related to books: Angela Michelle and Lisa Laird. Their book boards are popular with men and women alike.
I am not an expert on literacy, which gifts women really want, or how to truly give back to women. But as a grown women who has worked with many women, traveled extensively these past 3 years and met many kinds of women, befriended many different people from both genders, had her heart broken several times by men at different ages and stages, got knocked down several times by life and worked hard to get up again, I can safely say this, which is in my Wordpress post too:
"Books are the only tangible presents which foster both inherent genius and hard-earned talent and fuel our ambition using our minds and hearts/souls. Books contain universal truths that unite us in a way that other tangible gifts (such as gadgets and clothes) can’t. Those gifts increase the divide between the “Haves” and “Have-Nots”, and decrease the balance between humanity and technology, which is becoming more crucial by the day. Furthermore, books are the only tangible gift that help a person reap numerous, long-term, and meaningful, intangible rewards.”
My final takeaway? Give the gift of listening. Listen to the women in your life! Help women’s voices, ideas, thought processes, aspirations, missions, questions, and answers to those questions, be heard.
Let me end with this REALLY funny, brilliant link to a video clip that makes the point; It’s Not About the Nail. A must see for both men and women alike who want to have a better dialogue, better understanding of how to give, and share a good laugh together!
I wish you all success in your endeavor to both give and receive tangible and intangible gifts that enhance your lives; your inner and outer ones.
"Only when your consciousness is totally focused on the moment you are in can you receive whatever gift, lesson, or delight that moment has to offer. "
- Barbara De Angelis
"Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present."
The holiday season is all about gift giving; tangible items such as new gadgets and clothes, and intangible items such as one’s affection, time, unconditional support; all of which are becoming rare commodities in our frightfully busy, increasingly transparent and fickle “take-out” and “throw-away” mindsets. I initially wanted to provide several links here on Tumblr, my recommended creative lists of gifts for all types and budgets, but then I paused. And thought about it. And decided not to do it. I did not want to be redundant and prevent Google searchers from get their quotas this week. But there is a deeper reason. I don’t want to publicly endorse the shopping obsessions and meaningless gifting that could ensue.
Why? Because The NICE Initiative is ALL about finding real meaning in one’s work and play, in finding BALANCE! Balancing humanity and technology. Balancing needs vs. wants, especially when it comes to leaving a legacy for our children to emulate. Balancing our Me vs. We mentality, especially re: sharing resources, and helping others. Balancing our planted seeds of social entrepreneurship and thought leadership with our harvesting of the social media marketing trends affecting global entrepreneurship. As I told social media guru, Archetypal Consulting Expert, terrific blogger, and entrepreneur extraordinaire Diane Bertolin when she interviewed me for her blog, “We can all work together to do something great”.
It starts with forging deeper connections with women all over the world via social media, and leveraging that to support each other’s endeavors and spread each others’ thought leadership. To share their story. I started to write about the importance of storytelling in my latest Wordpress blogpost, which you can read here. We women all have MUCH to contribute to the global pathways of entrepreneurship. Valuable takeaways to provide though our own experiences and virtual mentorship.
It’s time more women believed that. I’ve never actually met Diane Bertolin. (She founded a business based social media company in Canada. I founded a boutique educational consulting firm in NY/NJ that initially focused on providing thought leadership re: a product/service for the Autism community; my Socially Speaking™ social skills curriculum/seminars around the USA. As my business grew and more people around North America hired me to speak about it, I was asked to branch out into thought leadership for female entrepreneurs).
We connected on Google + when I started reading and sharing her posts, initially giving her just a “+1”, then a comment, then a re-share. She found me on Twitter and did the same. We then corresponded on LinkedIn, which culminated in our first real conversation via FaceTime, and I hope the beginning of a genuine friendship :-)
The truth is thus: The greatest gift we can give other women, and subsequently ourselves, is our generous, open, cross-pollinated (online and offline) support of their endeavors to achieve a true work/life balance and do something great; for themselves and for others.
It’s time to support more women in their pursuit of entrepreneurship. It’s also time to rethink the holiday gift giving rituals that are meant to unite people but somehow continue to divide them. Consider the “Haves” and “Have Nots”, especially in this economy. Consider the serious, meaningful presents vs. the frivolous, ephemeral ones not worth the price or time it took to get them. What does the gift you give really say about you? How does it enhance your Story or the one intersecting with yours, that of the recipient? What memories will it evoke months/years from now and what kind of legacy will it provide to the next generation?
It seems that the race to acquire “stuff” is on again, and that tangible items are sadly winning out over the intangible items in our collective consciousness and shopping frenzy. I touched on this around Thanksgiving time, when I wrote for The Huffington Post about what thankfulness really is, and what we can all learn from the Pilgrims. You can read that article here. This week, it behooves us to heed a cautionary tale with “Buyers Beware” written all over it; the Target security breach that impacted so many people, myself included.
In our rush to use those elusive coupons and get that “once in a lifetime” deal, I think we need to ask ourselves:
Is it better to give or to receive?
Upon further reflection, I don’t want to provide links here to subjective and incongruous lists of gifts for the techie, the non- techie, the startup entrepreneur, the seasoned entrepreneur, the female entrepreneur, or the millennial intern, who thinks he/she is fast tracking entrepreneurship but in reality is still considered a minion in many work places. Which is a shame, because I think Millennialls rock, and that they "in particular are causing us to change the way we approach our work/life balance, approach entrepreneurship, engage in social media, do business, advertise in cyber time and real time, and create with and consume visual media (art, film, books, blogs, mobile technology)."
Why? Read my latest HuffPost piece and find out :) It’s entitled "A Picture Paints a Thousand Words: Visualizing the Future of Social Media for Entrepreneurship in 2014".
I want to use this blogpost to help us visualize more meaningful gift giving this holiday season that will spur more female entrepreneurship in 2014. I want to cite several links that really resonate with me and my NICE Mission (NICE= Nice, Informed, Competent, Entrepreneurship) I introduce in my upcoming book. I want to offer some food for thought about intellectual/psychological alternatives to the physical gift giving carousel. I want to give insights into how to get off and really “enjoy the ride” as we live more fully in the present and engage in more meaningful pursuits that impact positively on our future…..
1. Exhibit A: Working on Behalf of Others Helps You Find Real Happiness. Consider the cool back-story and deceptively simple, eloquent tweet of Little Pim’s CEO Julia Pimsleur. She tweeted this on 12/20/13 with this link; "Your happiness = genes+work+community involvement. A Formula for Happiness.” I follow her on Forbes and Twitter regularly and can’t wait to see what catches her eye next! I know it will probably end up clipped to my Evernote or Pocket holding pens, or both :)
2. Exhibit B: Allowing Yourself to Receive Helps You Embrace Imperfection and Forgiveness. Consider motivational coach, author and speaker Lolly Daskal’s brilliant, succinct Call to Action (CTA) in her 12/17/13 blogpost The Gift of Receiving. It’s a wake up call for female entrepreneurs feeling guilty about trying to have it all and actually wanting to get “off the treadmill” of giving, giving, giving. You know who you are….it’s time to receive, receive, receive :) I love the way Lolly thinks, which is why I’m thrilled to see my Twitter feed constantly peppered with her quotes, links, and pics of the day!
3. Exhibit C: Disruptive Innovation is Not Just About Providing A Cool Tech Product to Launch Your Startup. Forget Silicon Valley Jargon. Your Service, Thought Leadership, and Re-calibrated Relationships With Others NOT in Your Field or Your Gender Pool (Via Networking, Social Media, or Customer Curation), Are Your Best Assets. Consider CEO of Now Possible and touted Master of Ceremonies of Slideshare and LinkedIn, Bruce Kasanoff. I’ve not yet had the privilege nor pleasure of connecting via social media but I want to. I have been following him unknowingly and then knowingly from LinkedIn to Slideshare and then back again. His writing is spot on and a must read for all you entrepreneurs trying to woo clients while balancing their (and your) cravings for humanity and technology. Speaking of tech prowess….his “decks” i.e. presentations on Slideshare are amazing feats of architecture with their surgical precision and visual artistry, with his appealing comics and graphics. I also really like the sly humor and short but sweet messages that hit you in your solar plexus. And your heart. And linger in your mind, long after you’ve closed the tab. His bestselling book, Smart Customers, Stupid Companies: Why Only Intelligent Companies Will Thrive is on my homework radar i.e. my NICE Reading List on Amazon, which you can access here.
4. Exhibit D: Heeding Your Own Desire for Personal Growth Helps You Balance Head/Heart and Nurture Your Talents So You Promote Inner/Outer Change and Mentor Others To Do So Too. Consider the “man with the vision”, who is giving men in the workplace a roadmap for aiming for leadership positions from a different mindset; shooting from the heart, not just the hip. I’m referring to the man “transforming leadership for the 21st century” with a mission closely aligned to mine, only his is for men, and he’s on the West Coast! I’m writing about author and speaker Mark Crowley’s recent blogpost; an erudite, optimistic, and uplifting summary of Leadership Trends that can affect the autonomy of employees and wannabe entrepreneurs (male AND female) everywhere! Mark recently started following me on Twitter, and was one of the first men to politely correspond via “Direct Message” to introduce himself, his work, and offer an invitation to connect on LinkedIn and provide/trade virtual mentorship. Once I read his blogposts, I couldn’t stop, and have added post after post to my Safari “Reading List” for study! I even created a folder for his work in my bookmarks bar, as I am intrigued how parallel some of our ideas/calls to action are!
Truth lingers in the hearts and minds of those who feel it and heed it. True gifts can do the same. Let’s all work this week on giving real and meaningful presents; to ourselves, to others, to help us be and do something great. The spark is inside each of us, waiting to be ignited. When sparks are ignited, the shared fire and illumination begins.
It starts with a knowing in the heart that gets sorted out in the mind and implemented over time. Thanks you all for your time and encouragement about this blog, my book, and my work. It’s an ongoing learning process from which I have grown so much, thanks to all the gifts of mentorship and virtual mentorship I have received. I wish you all happy holidays and the gift of continued growth and learning. I wish you more wonderful moments in time that become cherished gifts, treasured memories and calls to action later. At the very least, I hope this holiday season gives you MANY more teachable moments and funny, heartwarming pages for your Story!
Remember the story we had to read in high schools around America, “The Lady and the Tiger”, about which door the man had to choose between? Remember The Wizard of Oz, hidden from the rest of the world, and our surprise when Dorothy finally meets him face to face? Remember those old TV game shows where people got to pick prizes from behind various doors? That’s what my upcoming book , latest book trailer, and subsequent mission, The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship is all about. It’s all about giving more women access to those doors, and learning to see/use what’s behind them, in a different, more meaningful, and yes, more potentially profitable way.
We are now part of the Digital Age, which has spawned the social media movement whose offshoots are the iEra and corporate transparency trend (through blogging about company culture and operations, and posting “promo-selfies” online). The proverbial curtain, and peeking behind it, thus seems to have become an almost inalienable right for people. Like attaining and retaining digital citizenship. Like pursuing and profiting from entrepreneurship.
I just finished a seven part series here in Tumblr on the architecture and artistry we women need to imbue in our pursuit of all our endeavors, but especially that of entrepreneurship. When asked about the current state of female entrepreneurship in today’s tech-driven, fast paced, and globally connected startup culture, I have been known to talk about the juggling act re: humanity and technology (the theme of my book) and then flippantly reply, “intermittently sunny with a chance of sudden downpours.”
It’s the truth, which is why Infographics are being increasingly popular, so that entrepreneurs can gain a quick, visual, and practical bird’s eye view into the “lay of the land”. Just check out this one; “A Wondrous Peek into the Mind of an Entrepreneur”, and this one; "Five Key Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs". Just check out various visual content marketing campaigns online, which are showing those truths and the reality and aspirations of female entrepreneurs like never before. I am currently writing a series of blogposts about that on my Wordpress blog, which you can access here.
Because the truth of the matter is that if you peek behind the curtain, female entrepreneurship is necessary, coveted, but still fraught with misunderstood stereotypes and pitfalls; resulting in opposing viewpoints and confusion about how to “get ahead”. Yet it’s still paradoxically more attainable than ever! Which is why virtual mentorship and thought leadership is as crucial for women as an actual mentor. Just read Ellen Leanse’s first person account in her recent guest post for Venture Beat. She gives some of the best advice I ever read, and packages it so well:
"Give yourself a killer advantage: break the old rules. We live in a place where disruption of outdated ways moves us all forward and creates measurable wins. It might have once worked, somehow, to believe we were “more” if we labeled others as “less,” but that’s legacy architecture – and why use an AN/FSQ-7 when you can use an iPad AIR? Metaphor notwithstanding, its time to leave the old junk behind."
Brava Ellen, and all you women out there who have started this dialogue at work, and work hard on mentoring and redefining both your roles and the roles of other women, subsequently giving us different labels and teachable moments as a collective. See the searing, powerful video from Pantene, “Labels Against Women”, now featured on my website….
Different voices and perspectives in the social media feeds and blogsphere seem to indicate that women are not getting the same amount or same kinds of support/recognition as their male counterparts; here in the USA and in other places like India.
You can read more about that here, and how to counteract that, in Catherine Mandler’s intelligent article. Main takeaway: ”Once you’ve succeeded in starting your own business, reach out and help other women.”
You can also read why telling women to be more like men doesn’t work here, where Karen Gifford succinctly sums up that “focusing our advice on the young women who are trying to break into a mostly male profession leaves out the most powerful part of the equation: the men who are gatekeepers. Telling young women to focus on the ways in which they are different from men is profoundly disempowering, both at the start of their careers and over time. There’s nothing as undermining as constantly comparing yourself to a standard you cannot meet. It’s confidence destroying”.
You can peek behind the curtain and see the realities of social entrepreneurship in India in particular, in this interesting article which has implications for women all over the world. It also contains a brief and eloquent call to action (CTA) that my NICE Initiative is attempting to address:
"More of these type of initiatives will be needed. Some of these could be the availability of soft loans, mentoring, a national association for women social entrepreneurs, tax breaks and incentives to hire more women in the workforce."
"How is it possible, we can’t help but wonder, that two completely different women from completely different backgrounds, different experiences, different generations, different countries, different life trajectories, different languages, even different religions are telling us, basically, the same thing?
It is possible, because it is has happened:
Here are excerpts from the book cover of each book:
“Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can”
“I am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world”
But going deeper beyond the book cover, both books are personal, incredible and poignant. Malala and Sheryl have both arrived, via diametrically opposite one may say, journeys to the same conclusion: encouraging us, women and men alike, but mostly women, to not be afraid, to find our own voice and to use it to change the world!”
Where can we start? The holiday season is upon us and that means holiday parties and a more relaxed atmosphere at work. That means “embracing imperfection” and understanding the realities of what “having it all really means, which Heather Zynczak writes about for Forbes. That means understanding the signals and etiquette when networking. Read more about it in this spot on and funny article by Meredith Fineman aptly titled, "Are We Networking or is This a Date?"
That means gift giving with purpose, with planning, and with compassion. Tim Berry, a father of girls and thought leader on startups writes about what constitutes real and lasting gifts for little girls, in his brilliant, deceptively simple blogpost; "Do You Want Your Daughter to Be a Successful Entrepreneur?" Vivek Wadwa also looks at the future of littel girls and their ability to become successful in the workplace, in his recent article about creating better toys today for the female engineers of tomorrow, which you can read here. Buzzfeed recently provided a terrific list of "Twenty Six Amazing Gifts to Empower Little Girls" which you can read here. GoldieBlox is on it, and has been on my educational and entrepreneurial radar for a long time, since I heard about the Kickstarter campaign, and again when their adorable ad got pulled from YouTube, due to the Beastie Boys controversy. I’d love to peek behind the curtain here! I’d love to get Malcolm Gladwell’s take on the unfolding story with David and Goliath overtones here!
I hope you all give and receive gifts that are truly inspiring, meaningful, and game changing for those around you. Happy Holidays!